Creating a Diverse and Qualified Cyber Workforce

In this day and age, Americans rely heavily on cyberspace for everything from paying bills, connecting with friends and family, and building businesses, to larger-scale issues such as national security and economic development. Because technology and humanity have become so interwoven, there is an increasing demand for cyber skills in the workforce. The Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) recently released a report, National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy: Unleashing America’s Talent, to outline how we can strengthen our cyber workforce while creating well-paying jobs. The main focus of the report is to equip every American with cyber skills to fill cyber workforce vacancies through a whole-of-nation effort, and collaboration between public and private partners.

The strategy is organized into four pillars:

  1. Equip Every American with Foundational Cyber Skills: Provide the workforce with universal cyber skills in digital literacy, computational literacy, and digital resilience through educational systems and learning opportunities.
  2. Transform Cyber Education: Promote cyber education by creating an ecosystem of engaged partners, such as local employers, providers, and government.
  3. Expand and Enhance America’s Cyber Workforce: Create a dynamic cyber workforce by encompassing underserved and underrepresented Americans. This can be accomplished by adopting a skills-based approach rather than relying on college-degrees or job experience.
  4. Strengthen the Federal Cyber Workforce: The federal government should become a leader in skills-based hiring by attracting members on underserved and underrepresented groups. By using skills-based hiring and assessments, employers can put more focus on what candidates can do.

Cyber education and training must become more broadly available to meet the growing demand for cyber skills in today’s workforce. Hiring workers of all ages, backgrounds, and demographics will create a greater openness to candidates who are knowledgable in cybersecurity, but don’t necessarily have formal education. The ONCD strongly encourages the development of foundational cyber skills to not only create substantial cyber workforce opportunities, but also put Americans into good-paying, quality jobs.

The following Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports in HSDL provide additional information on cyber workforce staffing challenges:

Cybersecurity Workforce: National Initiative Needs to Better Assess Its Performance, Report to Congressional Requesters

Cybersecurity Workforce: Agencies Need to Accurately Categorize Positions to Effectively Identify Critical Staffing Needs, Report to Congressional Committees

For more information, check out documents in HSDL related to the cyber workforce and cyber education.

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